Soccer

15 To Watch in Sports Business: Wrapping up the Olympics and NBA news

15 To Watch in Sports Business: Wrapping up the Olympics and NBA news

15 TO WATCH/5 SPORTS TECH/POWER OF SPORTS 5: RICK HORROW’S TOP SPORTS/BUSINESS/TECH/PHILANTHROPY ISSUES FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 26
with Jamie Swimmer & Jesse Leeds Grant

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

  1. Now that the PyeongChang Olympics have concluded, all eyes now turn to Tokyo 2020. According to SportsBusiness Journal, even before this year’s Winter Olympics ended, “the hype for Tokyo 2020” was already building in Asia. The next Summer Games, which are about 29 months away, are already drawing sponsors from across the world. Many bigtime brands and companies “have made it clear they’re reserving their most expensive plans” for the Tokyo Olympics. Tokyo 2020 had an Olympic house built in South Korea to spread the buzz among more casual fans. The display had a specific purpose: to excite fans about the culture and technology available in Japan. “I want to suggest that all visitors can see the Japanese technology,” said Organizing Committee Senior Director Hiroyuki Kobayashi. “Also that Tokyo has various characteristics and attractions such as culture, nature, delicious food and the water, so people can enjoy many things in Tokyo’s metropolitan city.” One of the delights for Olympic participants, fans, and journalists in PyeongChang was the efficiency of operations, from facilities to transportation to food service. Expect the same in Japan, famous for being a place where, among cultural treasures, the trains always run on time.

  1. Wrapping up the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, female athletes helped carry Team USA across the finish line in a big way. According to the Los Angeles Times, the recently-finished Games mark the fourth Olympics in a row where the American women outperformed their male counterparts, with a gold medal in women’s hockey highlighting the two-week campaign. On top of that, Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall took a shocking gold in cross-country skiing, and the women’s speed skating team pursuit surprised the field by taking bronze. Leading into the final week, Team USA as a whole was on track for one of its worst Olympics ever in terms of the overall medal count – it finished with 23 – but the Games were salvaged thanks to the women. Certain days were highlighted by medals won only by female athletes, most notably on February 21, when all four medals were claimed by women. With the likely exception of gold medal snowboarder Chloe Kim and skier Mikaela Shiffrin, both thought to have commercial staying power, most Olympic champions have only about a 12-week window to capitalize on their fame before the Olympic halo effect fades.

  1. The United States women’s figuring skating team turned out its worst performance in an Olympics since the 1948 Games in St. Moritz. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the team only won two bronze medals over the two weeks of competitions, marking the fewest since Nancy Kerrigan’s sole silver at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer. Of the top American skaters heading into PyeongChang, U.S. Champion Bradie Tennel, Mirai Nagasu, and Karen Chen finished ninth, tenth and eleventh, respectively. The lack of medals in PyeongChang was compounded with the worst group effort in Team USA history. While the top five U.S. women’s skaters at last month’s nationals averaged an age of just over 22 years old, the top five Russian skaters averaged only 16. The U.S. team has much catching up to do if it hopes to win medals at the 2022 Beijing Olympics; the talent pipeline does not look promising.

  1. The NBA’s All-Star weekend was thrilling and lucrative, delivering an estimated $116 million economic impact to Los Angeles. It was also educational. During the All-Star break, Jerome Williams, NBRPA Chapter Members, fathers and mentors of pro basketball players, and the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation visited Manual Arts High School to celebrate their commitment to bringing African-American history education to schools across several states. Williams and company have partnered with education-technology company EVERFI to deliver 306 - African American History(TM), a web-based course that communicates African-American history through primary texts and compelling vignettes. At Manual Arts High, EVERFI and special guests held a group conversation and panel discussion about lessons from the course. The event also recognized 10 students for top essay reflections through the 306 - African American History writing competition. The 10 winning students received a prize pack from the NBRPA Chapters Legends Shooting for Peace program and scholarships for HBCU schools. The event ended with a Celebrity Basketball Game, which featured Williams, Houston, and other retired NBA players versus the Manual Arts High basketball team. This is yet another terrific example of how sports partnerships and mega events don’t just deliver ratings and economic impact, they can change lives.

  2. NBA All-Star break brings at least $116 million in increased economic activity to Los Angeles County. A new study completed by Micronomics (an independent economic research firm) estimates that NBA All-Star Weekend generated at least $116 million in increased economic activity for Los Angeles County. Of that $116 million, an estimated $90 million is tied to tourism; visitors from out of town spending in local hotels, restaurants, and in Jimmy Butler’s case, possibly clubs. The Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission also believes that the city received intangible value from the league marketing it as a desirable destination to a global audience. If Micronomics estimates are correct, the All-Star Game brought 40% more business to Los Angeles than it did to New Orleans last season. $116 million is a particularly impressive figure when you consider that the MLB All-Star Game played in Anaheim in 2010 generated just $85 million; no MLB All-Star Game (except the 2 recently hosted at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field) has ever made a larger impact on a host city. Los Angeles will host several other prominent sporting events over the next several years, including the 2022 Super Bowl, 2023 CFB National Championship Game, and the 2028 Summer Olympics.

  1. The NBA went into the All-Star break hoping to level out tension between players and referees, but little was done to solve those problems. According to Bleacher Report, a meeting between the two opposing sides turned out to be “underwhelming, leaving many issues unresolved.” Just three referees and two players attended the meeting – Warriors forward Andre Iguodala and NBPA Vice President/Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie – along with NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts. The meeting was called “productive” in the aftermath, but the lack of player attendance, specifically star players, underwhelmed the referees hoping to mend the relationship. One of the main talking points at the meeting was the “use of certain gestures, such as the hand signal for a stop sign when a player begins arguing,” which many players consider demeaning. Additionally, players want to receive better education from the refs about rule changes. While the two sides are hoping to meet again before the end of the regular season, if the league’s marquee players don’t get involved, little progress will likely be made.

  1. The Oakland A’s are still working to get a new ballpark despite the constant setbacks and rejections from Bay Area politicians and land owners. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, A’s Owner Dave Kaval is still aiming to “have a deal for a new ballpark – somewhere – by the year’s end.” The team is still working on and considering three potential sites in Oakland to construct a new stadium. In the past few months, the A’s got a “no go” from the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees about building on campus grounds and conflicting information from Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) General Manager Grace Crunican about building a station near a possible ballpark site at Howard Terminal. Kaval noted that the team’s third option of rebuilding a stadium at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is currently the front-runner. Any new stadium will most likely be 100% privately financed, through Kaval does not like the idea of building on the Coliseum site, which is five miles from downtown.

  1. Ticket sales for May’s Indianapolis 500 are “booming,” according to Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles. Last year’s race drew a record crowd of 300,000 fans to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the largest crowd “IMS has welcomed in the last 20 years outside the 100th running in 2016,” which saw a crowd of 350,000 in attendance. Boles did not cite a specific number as IMS never reveals its ticket sales or attendance figures, though he did note that not only were sales ahead of last year’s marker, but they were “ahead by a considerable margin.” Boles and his team at IMS have been working hard to strategically promote and brand racer Danica Patrick, who is set to end her career at the Indy 500 on Sunday, May 27. Patrick’s final race of her career is expected to deliver a bigger bump to ticket sales and TV ratings for the famous racing event than Formula 1 star Fernando Alonso’s presence brought last year. The “Danica Bump” will also undoubtedly benefit the entire Verizon IndyCar Series, and up and coming drivers such as Andretti Autosports’ Zach Veach, sponsored for his first full Verizon IndyCar season by Group One Thousand One.

  1. With the new MLB season just around the corner, the San Diego Padres are hoping break even financially in 2018. According to The Athletic, despite signing first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million contract just a week ago, the roughly $50 million in cash that the club is set to receive from Disney’s purchase of BAMTech is arriving “at a convenient time.” The deal for Hosmer nearly doubles the team’s previous free agency record. Speaking about the one-time payout that all clubs are getting from the league this season, Padres Executive Chair Ron Fowler said, “We’re going to spend a good portion of that. We’ve got $20 million in payroll here and we’ve got another $20 million we just added.” On top of the new mega contract for Hosmer, the team will be spending another $18 million on Petco Park to put up a new video board in right field, and recently installed the largest array of solar panels in baseball this offseason. As the only pro sports game in town, the Padres are under constant, massive scrutiny. Hopefully for the franchise the Hosmer acquisition and other upgrades will pay off come Opening Day.

  1. The Golden State Warriors are planning to head north to Seattle for a preseason matchup against the Sacramento Kings. According to the Sacramento Bee, the exhibition game marks another opportunity “to re-ignite the intensely passionate discussion about bringing back the Sonics” via expansion or relocation. The game in Washington will be a return to the Pacific Northwest for former Supersonic Kevin Durant, who played his first NBA season with the club before the Sonics relocated to Oklahoma City. Speaking on the potential of playing in Seattle, Durant said, “That’ll be amazing. I hope that goes through. The fans in Seattle definitely deserve basketball.” The game on October 6 is set to be played at KeyArena, the first NBA game inside the arena since April 13, 2008. KeyArena is currently set to undergo a $600 million renovation by the Oak View Group and should be finished in time for the 2020-2021 NHL season. While the Oak View Group and the city are currently more focused on landing an NHL franchise, the preseason game will serve as a realistic sounding board for Seattle’s fan interest in the NBA once again.

  1. Major League Soccer just launched a new brand campaign ahead of the 2018 season, titled “Our Soccer.” According to AdWeek, the goal of the campaign is to highlight the league’s unique soccer culture that has spread across the United States and Canada before the regular season kicks off on March 3. The 30-second spot was featured as part of the league’s first campaign from its new ad agency of record, Cornerstone. The ad stars USMNT and Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore alongside rapper 2 Chainz, comparing “soccer fandom to membership in a local club.” “This is the most diverse, progressive league in North America,” said Trevor Eld, Chief Creative Officer of Cornerstone. “We went inside the culture to discover these amazing qualities and bring them to life in an authentic way.” The campaign will be streamed extensively across North America by the league’s media rights partners, as well as by international and regional broadcast partners and digitally. Besides looking forward to sowing the fruits of their new ad agency relationship, MLS can count on another major outside influence during its 2018 season – it’s a World Cup year.

  1. Surprisingly, as a late mover into the space, Manchester United will launch its own YouTube channel in an attempt to further build its brand and commercial income. According to the London Guardian, ManU is currently the only English Premier League club without its own YouTube channel, while also being the only major global soccer club to not have an exclusive channel, either. YouTube first launched in 2005 and has since grown into the world’s biggest video-sharing site. Historically, Manchester United has been able to monetize its digital fan base through its pay-TV channel, MUTV, its own online presence, and an official Facebook page with over 72 million followers from around the world. “The club’s vision is to be the largest and most engaged sports club in the world,” said a Manchester United spokesperson. “Our presence on platforms such as YouTube will allow us to achieve this vision.” This seems to be a lucrative no-brainer for both sides – an opportunity for ManU to continue to grow its global fan base, and for YouTube to capitalize on the most recognized sports franchise in the world.

  1. Arsenal FC signs largest sponsorship deal in club history. Emirates will remain the shirt and training kit sponsor for Arsenal FC through 2023-2024, signing a deal worth “in excess of” $56 million/year,” the largest sponsorship deal in team history. The English soccer club and the Dubai-based airline maintain the longest running shirt partnership in the EPL, dating back to 2006. Emirates also owns the naming rights to Arsenal’s north London stadium through 2028, acquired in a prior transaction. While not exactly an apples to apples comparison, as La Liga/EPL shirts have corporate logos across the chest and NBA jerseys contain just a small corporate logo patch, there is a drastic difference in the revenue generated from uniform sponsorships between the leagues. The most lucrative NBA patch deal is a 3-year $60 million agreement between Rakuten and the Golden State Warriors. Rakuten is paying nearly 3x the amount annually, over a longer period ($58 million/year, 4-years), to be the shirt sponsor for FC Barcelona. ManU has the most lucrative jersey sponsorship deal in soccer, valued at $74 million/year (7 years).
     

  2. This past season, college football experienced its largest per-game attendance drop in 34 years — and second-largest ever. Attendance among the 129 FBS schools was down an average of 1,409 fans per game from 2016, and get this: the most iconic league in the country, the SEC, saw the biggest drop of any Power Five conference (2,433 fans per game). This is not a fluke. Since establishing an all-time high in 2008, FBS average attendance has slipped an alarming 10.1% over the last nine years. And now, thanks to 2017, some very depressing history has been made: For the first time ever, average attendance has declined for four consecutive seasons. What seems to be the problem? Some blame college students: "This issue is with lack of involvement of the college students. They no longer view attending sporting events as part of the university experience. Others blame TV/technology and the comfort of being able to watch pretty much whatever game you want from the comfort of your own couch. Here's another theory: these days, college football has gotten so compelling that fans are just as interested in the national slate of games as they are in rooting on their own college team. 
     

  3. This is for you if your mother always told you to eat clean snow. According to Sports Internet, Lake Tahoe’s iconic Squaw Valley ski resort, and its sister resort, Alpine Meadows, plan to go 100% renewable energy by the end of this year and get a cleaner, more reliable and resilient grid — all at no added cost. Squaw Valley’s utility, Liberty Utilities, will supply the ski resorts with 100% solar, wind, hydropower, and other renewables under a special agreement, and the utility plans to buy and install a pack of Tesla batteries on the mountain that will provide backup power to the resorts and to the wider community. The improvements will allow the resorts to cut their carbon footprint by more than half, to less than 6,000 metric tons a year of carbon dioxide from 14,000 metric tons a year currently, and will provide much-needed electric reliability and resilience at no extra cost. Now if they could only manufacture more reliable and resilient snow pack -- unlike last year's El Nino, most Western ski resorts are hurting in this year's snow drought.

Tech Top 5

  1. Hyperice launches vibration therapy device at the NFL Combine. At the NFL Combine this week, top college athletes will come to Indianapolis to show off their skills as NFL hopefuls. What goes into training, conditioning, and recovery is crucial for these athletes to go pro. Hyperice’s recovery devices are key for a successful training regimen, especially for players with pressure to perform at their very best. Hyper is used by NFL athletes such as Tom Brady, Patrick Peterson, Antonio Brown, and Myles Garrett. Hyperice will be present at the NFL Combine to debut their newest recovery product, a hand-held vibration massage device, which gives both athletes and consumers the ability to feel the benefits of vibration therapy. Hyperice was founded in 2010 and caught traction after Kobe Bryant used their products and endorsed them. Founder Anthony Katz said “Athletes use cold therapy to recovery from daily training or competition, treat an injury, and as a means of preventing injury by breaking the inflammation cycle in the body.”
     

  2. Top tech NFL players are using in 2018. The NFL Players Association runs a tech accelerator designed to trade player licensing rights for equity. The accelerator is called One Team Collective, and is run by a mix of tech industry leaders and a player advisory board with nine current and former NFL players. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a big part in the athletic arena utilizing sports statistics databases and fan focused applications. Personalized fan experiences, speech analytics, and computer vision will all play a big part in AI. Consumer product innovation companies will also have a significant competitive advantage in 2018. The ability to embrace new technologies in activewear, nutrition, and fanwear have been established as key segments for emerging companies. Rep The Squad, a subscription service allowing fans to borrow expensive authentic sports jerseys, is the perfect example of new technology helping transform an old experience (wearing jerseys to games).
     

  3. The LPGA is investing in a social media tool to help its pros better build their digital brands. The association has teamed up with Nebraska-based opendorse to give LPGA pros a way to build and monetize their social media channels. “Our players are our greatest spokespeople,” said Tina Barnes-Budd, Senior Director, LPGA Social Media Marketing and Communications. “We just had a successful pilot test at our first event of the season with the defending champion, Brittany Lincicome. She loved the ease of execution and thought it was great that she could ‘natively’ share LPGA-generated content with her fans.” Blake Lawrence, opendorse’s CEO, also sees the deal as something much bigger than just a streamlined way to deliver high-quality content. “The LPGA players and fans of tomorrow will be introduced to the game via social channels. As young golfers look for heroes in the sport, these players will be equipped to inspire that next generation of golfers.”

  1. The esports revolution continues to attract big money. Vision Venture Partners (VVP), founded by former NBA star Rick Fox, has created an esports-only investment fund called Vision Esports L.P. that just announced of a $38 million capital raise. Investors in the capital raise include NFL star Odell Beckham Jr, NBA star Kevin Durant, and the St. Louis Cardinals. "We have been following the esports sector for several years," said St. Louis Cardinals Vice President Business Development, Dan Good. "In the last year, we have gotten to know the team at Vision Esports and felt this was an exciting investment opportunity…we were impressed with Vision’s depth of experience that is applicable to the new esports ecosystem; including, Stratton Sclavos’ experience with the San Jose Sharks, Jace Hall at Warner Brothers Interactive, Chris Nordling at MGM Resorts, and Mike Mossholder at the UFC.” Vision Esports team, Echo Fox, is in first place in the League of Legends Championship series and top ten in the world.
     

  2. Omega installs player tracking for Olympics. When the U.S. women’s ice hockey team won the gold medal, they had small motion sensors weighing fewer than 10 grams stitched into their sweaters, installed by Omega. The sensors transmitted reams of data over dedicated frequency to antennas installed throughout the arena. The Omega Timing system uses camera-track of the puck to tally each player’s number of shifts, passes, speed, and time on the ice. Statistics are displayed on television broadcasts once they are generated, processed, and distributed. “The analytics and the statistics that we can generate through these sensors will allow to explain exactly how a goal was scored, how he got to the goal — for both teams, for the one scoring it and the one [allowing] it,” said Omega Timing CEO Alain Zobrist. “Those information will be available in real-time so we can have very accurate game analysis and player stats coming out of these sensors.” Omega debuted their technology at the 2016 Youth Winter Olympics and hopes to win a bid from the NHL when they implement their own tracking system in the 2019-2020 season.

Power of Sports 5

  1. Norway wins Olympic medal count. At the Games’ conclusion, Norway consistently led the medal count at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. The country finished with 39 total medals, 8 more than second place Germany (which it tied for gold medals at 14), and ten more than third place Canada. The Norwegian government has a policy that every farmer, fisherman, and other citizen has the right to play sports. Norway will spend any amount of money to achieve that goal, and has built all-weather sports grounds everywhere around the country complete with warm locker rooms. Further, all Norwegian kids can be trained by coaches with diplomas for less than $150 a year. This broad culture and even-handed commitment from Norway is a leading factor of why the country continues to lead the medal count at the Winter Olympics every four years.

  1. NFL brothers Devin and Jason McCourty top $1 million in fundraising. On Saturday, February 17, NFL stars and brothers, Devin and Jason McCourty organized their annual Tackle Sickle Cell Blood Drive at a local hospital near the Rutgers campus in New Jersey. Over 200 donors showed up to donate blood and participated in the charity’s Casino Night fundraiser. The McCourty twins founded the organization in 2013 to bring awareness to a disease that affects their aunt. Funds are being donated to Embrace Kids Foundation, a New Jersey based charity benefiting children with cancer and blood disorders. Over $1 million was donated to this cause from efforts throughout various fundraisers this year.
     

  2. Liberian President secures $500 million to develop sports. FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who was invited by French President Emmanuel Macron to the launch of his Development through Sports Program, was among a host of sports officials representing various institutions, including the National Basketball Association. The FIFA boss informed Liberian President George Weah that FIFA has allocated half a billion dollars towards the development of sports in Africa, and assured him that Liberia will be among the countries in Africa that will benefit from the pilot project. President Weah has secured US$5 million from the World Bank Social Protection Program to enhance his sports development agenda.

  3. Blackhawks fans donate $20,000 to support Caps’ Devante Smith-Pelly. Four Chicago Blackhawks fans were ejected from the United Center after yelling racist taunts at Washington Capitals Devante Smith-Pelly. A week later, Blackhawks players are rallying together to donate money to a charity of Smith-Pelly’s choice, Fort Dupont Ice Arena. Fort Dupont is a not-for-profit charity that the Capitals’ Monumental Sports Foundation has supported for years. It’s the only full-size indoor ice arena in the District, and it is home to the Cannons, the oldest minority youth hockey program in North America. That program is also involved with the NHL’s Hockey Is for Everyone Initiative, a campaign that’s especially emphasized in February. The 501c3 charity also houses the Kids On Ice program. The goals of both are to teach young people discipline and self-esteem while instilling a sense of purpose and offering an incentive to excel academically. Over $20,000 has been raised toward this cause by Blackhawks players to date.

  4. WWE announces charitable matchups. WWE has unveiled the 12 charitable organizations paired with WWE Superstars competing in Mixed Match Challenge, a single-elimination mixed tag-team tournament, in which the winning team will receive $100,000 for their charity of choice. Mixed Match Challenge is a 12-week tournament that will stream live in the United States exclusively on Facebook Watch. “Giving back is in WWE's DNA and part of our long history, so we are thrilled that each Mixed Match Challenge team will compete to win the grand prize of $100,000 to support organizations that are truly important to them,” Michelle Wilson, WWE Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer, said in a release. In addition to the $100,000 grand prize, each team's charitable organization will automatically receive $10,000. Charities range from Boys & Girls Clubs of America to UNICEF and the Special Olympics.

How to watch D.C. United games in 2019

dcunited-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

How to watch D.C. United games in 2019

Hello, fellow Black and Red enthusiast! If you’re excited after 2018’s late-season run for D.C. United and the optimism it brings this spring - who could blame you?

The team largely returns intact, including homegrown keeper Bill Hamid, its three-headed monster of Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta and captain Wayne Rooney up front, and the squad added promising young midfielder Lucas Rodriguez to aid the attack.

But alas, the team announced a new multi-year deal with FloSports, putting the majority of their games solely in the streaming space. For those used to watching the squad on TV this comes as a shock, but never fear, we’re here to guide you to ensure you don’t miss any of the action this season.

What’s FloSports?

FloSports is a streaming service that will air all non-nationally televised D.C. United games in addition to original content on FloFC.com. The service is available to all residents in the DMV area, extending as far south as Richmond and all the way to Delaware. They’ll offer both English and Spanish commentary, all in high definition.

Ok, so how much does it cost?

The rate depends on a few factors. If you’re a season ticket holder, partner or a member of a supporter group (Screaming Eagles, Barra Brava, etc.), the price is $5.99 per month. For all others it’s $8.99 per month.

Can I only watch online?

Nope. FloSports can be accessed by downloading its app on iOS, Roku or Apple TV 4.

Are there any other ways to watch the team?

Yes. Audi Field is located in D.C. and offers better-than-high definition views of the team for 17 home matches this season.

What if I don’t want to pay?

Well pushy, 21 of the 34 league matches will be broadcast exclusively through FloSports, so that means 13 other matches will be nationally televised, either on ESPN, Fox Sports or UniMas.

Also, that number could grow later in the season based on the team’s performance and the whims of the major networks enforcing their programming flexibility.

When does the season start?

D.C. kicks off March 3rd against defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta United FC on ESPN, where the team hopes to continue the run of results from its late season surge in 2018 and set the tone for a new campaign.

Can I borrow your password for FloSports so I can watch the games?

This article is over.

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

audi-field-silhouette.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

The Washington Spirit, one of nine teams in the National Women's Soccer League, will pay a visit to Audi Field later this summer.

The game versus the Portland Thorns FC is scheduled for August 25 at 8 pm. Tickets can be purchased online via Ticketmaster and start at $31, but will also be available at the door. 

If you're looking for where to watch the Spirit take on the Thorns from the comfort of your own couch, the game will be broadcast on ESPNews starting at 7:38 pm. Dalen Cuff is set to host the pregame show, with USA Women's National Team alumnus Aly Wagner commentating alongside Jenn Hildreth, in her second season of NWSL coverage.

Considering the recent addition of the legendary Wayne Rooney and their move to the new facility, DC United has a lot to celebrate.

Audi Field, which opened in Washington D.C.'s Buzzard Point on July 9, seats 20,000 spectators. For DC United, who previously played at RFK Stadium, the capacity is a step down from the almost 46,000 seats at RFK. But for the Spirit, who call Germantown's Maryland Soccerplex their home, the audience will hopefully far outnumber the Plex's usual 3,000 to 4,000 spectators.

The Spirit have struggled this season, with an unusually high amound of draws and more losses than wins. Though fan favorite and star forward Mallory Pugh is still sidelined with a PCL sprain, the team hopes to improve their ability to close one-goal deficits and gain a sustained offensive advantage. 

Aside from the Audi Field game, the Spirit will host two more home games this season. Utah Royals FC will visit the Soccerplex on Wednesday, August 22, and Sky Blue FC will close out the Spirit's home season on Saturday, September 1. Tickets for either game at their usual field can be purchased through the Washington Spirit's website or upon entry. 

If you haven't paid attention to women's soccer since the USWNT's 2015 World Cup victory, no worries. There's no better time than the present to support women's pro sports. Regardless of the end result, Portland vs. Washington will be a great match-up to watch, and the event has already made DC sports history.

MORE DC SPORTS NEWS: